When it comes to parties, nobody hosts them quite like Jason Aldean. He concocted a slamming Saturday night at the sold-out First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre with his signature country-rock taste.
Every rockstar host needs a sidekick, and Aldean picked a fellow Georgia native who truly made the speakers go “boom boom,” Luke Bryan. From the instant he bolted on stage, screams and squeals—mostly of the female type—overwhelmed the pavilion.
In a backwards baseball cap, fitted T-shirt, and snug blue jeans, Bryan could have stood motionless and roused the crowd. Instead, he utilized every ounce of energy and inch of space with rowdy hits like “Rain Is A Good Thing” and “Country Man.”
The ideal country man himself crooned the catchy “Someone Else Calling You Baby” and current single “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” while smoothly dancing and darting across the platform.
He stretched out before catching a breather at a piano center stage. Tapping on the keys, he let out the first line of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” to the country crowd’s dismay. He quickly retracted his words, joking around with everyone. Like his bright smile, his wit and charm could not be turned off.
Still seated at the piano, he played his first number-one “Do I” and Journey classic “Faithfully,” sending lighters and cell phones waving in the night sky.
Bryan then decided to hypothetically load everyone up in his trucks and find an Illinois back road for his smash “Drunk On You.” The amphitheater roared in unison as he alone strummed an acoustic, stripped-down beginning to the song. With 28,000 voices singing along, the band rejoined the lead singer to turn up the volume and intensity and “get drunk on Chicago, Ill.” Fans were further intoxicated by the added lyrics “I’m high on football season, go Bears!”
Bryan was a high-powered steam engine on stage, rolling through hit after hit. He belted out the party tune “All My Friends Say” and the fitting “I Don’t Want This Night To End.” The night would not end just yet, though. One song remained, and both Bryan and the ladies had been waiting all day for this one.
There’s no one in country music who knows how to “shake it” like Bryan. He even claimed to have a GED in the activity. He put his skills on display during “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and called a fellow country boy on stage to show off his moves. Eyes remained on the professional, however, as he schooled everyone in the “shaking it” subject.
His unmatched dancing, charming good lucks, and contagious charisma left the audience pleading for more, and there was only one man to fulfill that request—Jason Aldean.
Rough and rowdy, Aldean busted onto the stage ready to party from the moment he appeared. With his recognizable straw cowboy hat shadowing his face and black acoustic guitar strapped on, he took everyone on a rocking road trip with “Johnny Cash.”
After sticking it to the man and heading for the highway, Aldean decelerated for a ride on his “Big Green Tractor.” The crowd continued to sway as hints of nostalgia and heartbreak echoed in “Amarillo Sky,” “Why,” and “The Truth.” The emotional renditions proved Aldean’s solid vocal abilities.
He then revved up the crowd, telling Illinois to “get as crazy as you want to.” He banged out “Crazy Town,” starting a roughneck throwdown from the front row to the lawn seats. With his intimidating stares and stomping style of walk, he pushed the party to the next level.
Later, no one refused when Aldean asked Tinley Park to “Take A Little Ride” with him as he played the lead single off new album “Night Train,” which will be in stores October 16. Based on the reaction, fans can’t wait to get their hands on new Aldean music.
The upcoming album has some big boots to fill as Aldean’s 2010 release “My Kinda Party” produced five consecutive number-ones. The final releases from that collection were next on the set list, “Fly Over States” and “Tattoos On This Town.” As two of his most passionate tracks, fans joined in to create resounding choruses that touched many hearts.
Arguably his most endearing performance came on the Grammy-nominated “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” The duet with Kelly Clarkson showcased Aldean’s tender side and Clarkson’s powerhouse voice. While Clarkson only appeared via video screen, the song’s thunderous emotion remained strong.
Aldean then flaunted his proficiency in combining styles of music during the half-country-half-rap “Dirt Road Anthem.” Not many artists can pull off that kind of stunt, but Aldean performed it seamlessly.
The party theme carried on as Aldean declared himself as the host and kicked the show into overdrive. The tour’s namesake “My Kinda Party” sent fans into a head-banging frenzy, and the following “She’s Country” received the same wild response.
Cheers reached their peak as Aldean exited the stage and the lights dimmed, but everyone knew the night was not over just yet. He returned to cover a song that he hears whenever he’s in a bar—Kid Rock’s “Cowboy.” This further exhibited his knack for incorporating various genres in his shows.
He closed with his first-ever single “Hicktown,” taking everyone back to where it all began for him in 2005. Now, seven years later, he’s selling out shows and consistently racking up number-one hits. That’s surely a reason to celebrate, and the “My Kinda Party Tour 2012” was just about the biggest celebration possible.
Luke Bryan’s Setlist:
Rain Is A Good Thing
Someone Else Calling You Baby
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Drinkin’ Beer and Wastin’ Bullets
Faithfully (Journey cover)
Drunk On You
All My Friends Say
I Don’t Want This Night to End
Country Girl (Shake It for Me)
Jason Aldean’s Setlist:
Big Green Tractor
Take A Little Ride
Fly Over States
Tattoos On This Town
Don’t You Wanna Stay
Dirt Road Anthem
My Kinda Party
Cowboy (Kid Rock cover)
Review by Kelly O’Brien, Summer 2012 Marketing/Promotions Department Intern at US99.5, and a journalism major at Bradley University.